“Talented” and “caring” Chesterfield footballer died after taking methadone amid mental health battle, inquest finds

An inquest into the death of a 25-year-old Chesterfield footballer who was suffering with anxiety and depression found that he died after taking methadone.
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Chesterfield Coroner’s Court heard today that Marcus Beddoe, 25, died at Chesterfield Royal Hospital on April 20, 2021.

Marcus, who lived at Moorland View Road in Walton, suffered a prolonged cardiac arrest after taking Methadone a few days earlier, leading to an unsurvivable brain injury.

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Coroner Peter Nieto said that Marcus was an “active, fit young man” with a “responsible job” as a retail shift manager. He spent time at Chesterfield FC’s academy as a child, and attended both St Mary's Primary and St Mary's High School. He was also called up to represent England’s U19s in futsal, before appearing for Matlock Town and Clipstone FC.

Marcus sadly passed away last year.Marcus sadly passed away last year.
Marcus sadly passed away last year.

He had, however, been experiencing mental health problems in the months preceding his death, with his parents, Mary and Steven Beddoe, noticing a change in his behaviour around Christmas 2020.

Mr Nieto said that Marcus began treatment for anxiety and depression following an incident in which he was taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital after crashing his car. Mary feared this may have been a deliberate attempt to take his own life, but this was something that Marcus denied.

Marcus’ parents also felt that the second period of lockdown had exacerbated his difficulties as he was unable to go out as much, leading him to lose contact with people and begin to isolate himself.

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Marcus was prescribed medication, including Sertraline, and had regular telephone appointments with a number of different doctors to assess his condition.

During these calls, Marcus said he felt stressed and anxious, which he felt stemmed from an assault at a nightclub when he was 17, during which he was headbutted. He said he was not leaving the house, but did not express any desire to end his own life to medical staff.

In March, Marcus’ parents told doctors that he had left his job as he was finding it too stressful. They also said he was only leaving his bedroom to smoke, but felt that medication had made him calmer. Marcus spoke of his ongoing stress, but again reported no suicidal thoughts, and no red flags were identified for a crisis team referral.

His dose of Sertraline was increased in April, but on April 7, Steven told one of the doctors he was worried that Marcus’ condition had deteriorated, having lost around £6,000 while gambling. After this, another appointment was booked, and they were advised to get in touch sooner if Marcus worsened further.

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Mary raised some concerns about Marcus’ care during this period. She said that Marcus was manic as a side effect of Sertraline, which may have explained his gambling. This was, however, deemed unlikely by medical staff, who said that he had started to gamble before the dose increased, and added that Marcus presented no other symptoms of mania.

It was explained that Sertraline can cause moods to worsen for the first two weeks when the dose increases, but Marcus’ dose had been increased very slowly, in line with regulations, and they agreed to keep him on the medication.

She also questioned why Marcus was not offered face-to-face or video calls, but one of doctors involved in treating Marcus said they were worried about a breakdown in rapport, as he had said himself that he preferred talking on the phone.

A few days before Marcus’ death, a GP with a psychiatric background advised that Marcus be referred to a community mental health team. The medical staff involved in treating Marcus said that, due to long waiting lists for referrals, even if this had happened earlier, it would have been unlikely to change the outcome.

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Marcus took methadone at the flat of an acquaintance at some point between the evening of April 14 and the morning of April 15 2020.

Mr Nieto said: “Marcus had no significant history of drug use. He had occasionally used other substances, but was not prescribed methadone and had no history of opiate use.

“It is unclear how he obtained it, but there is no evidence that he was forced to take it. He either took it to experience the narcotic effect, or to help with his mental health problems – there is no evidence that he took it to cause himself any harm.

“All the evidence shows it is unlikely Marcus had taken this before, and because of that, he had no tolerance even to a moderate dose. He succumbed to the toxic effects of the methadone, which led to the cardiac arrest – that is the most likely chain of events leading to his death.”

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Mr Nieto concluded that Marcus’ death was drug-related, with his medical cause of death being hypoxic brain injury caused by methadone toxicity.

Marcus’ death rocked the local footballing community. On the first anniversary of his passing, Clipstone FC paid tribute to Marcus, describing him as a ‘talented footballer and a genuine, kind and caring person, much missed by all at Clipstone’.

Prior to facing Clipstone in the Marcus Beddoe Memorial Trophy last year, Matlock Town said: “Marcus was held in the highest regard by all who had the pleasure of meeting him and he's someone who is truly missed.”